While the whole world keeps an eye on the Confederations Cup, Major League Soccer carries on as it does every summer. Being the only top soccer league in the world that runs April through November has its pros and cons. One of the biggest pros, by far, is the fact that the teams in the running for the Championship can get some the best names in the market and have them ready to go for the playoffs.
In this way, the signings of Henry, Beckham, Ljungberg or Robbie Keane have helped their teams a lot in the past, and this summer won’t be any different. Some names have already started to come up as potential signings for the league, and now it’s a matter of making sure these key players can see the long term potential of playing a league that, while still doesn’t compete with the European and South American powerhouses, has been growing steadily for nearly 20 years now.
Marcos Senna, former Villarreal midfielder and European Champion in 2008 with Spain, has signed for New York Cosmos, of the North American Soccer League (virtually, MLS’ second diivision), and this move could signal the beginning of the “hunting” season for the “first division” teams that don’t want to stay behind in terms of bringing shiny new stars to keep their loyal fans happy and motivated for the final stretch of the season.
These are the names that are being tossed around as potential new signings who could land in the Major League Soccer in the next few months:
Kaká: This is the third summer in a row in which Kaká’s name comes up strong on the rumor-mill of Major League Soccer’s summer transfers. The Brazilian attacker is surely leaving Real Madrid, as he hasn’t been able to fulfill the huge expectations his 65 million euro signing, four years ago, created.
Many injuries and an obvious decline of his game have placed Kaká on the transfer list and MLS would be happy to foot the bill in order to make him the next designated player of the League. New York has been a long time option for the former Golden Ball winner, but since Beckham’s departure last November, there’s a spot with his name on it at the Galaxy. After his poor performance at Real Madrid, and with AC Milan not being able to give him the salary he will require, only a return to Sao Paulo or a transfer to North America seem feasible at this point, and it looke like Kaká is inching towards giving MLS a “yes.”
Tévez: Carlos Tévez seems to be ready to leave Manchester, and his options are wide open. The Argentine is a proven striker, who has been able to reign everywhere he has played: Boca Juniors, Corinthians, West Ham, Manchester United and Manchester City. At 29, however, he is looking for his last big contract, and it seems like MLS officials would be willing to make a big bet on him.
The idea here is that, at some point, MLS needs to put its target on players who are not just looking for a golden retirement, and Tévez could be the perfect man to embody that change. His signing would be a statement to all other quality players out there: Yes, you can come to the MLS when you are still young and have some of the best years of your career ahead of you. On the down side in Tévez’s case, there’s the fact that MLS will have to battle the likes of Liverpool, AC Milan and Juventus, who are also keen on signing the striker.
Gio Dos Santos: Giovani’s case is interesting, since here we have a player whose name and reputation have not been backed by an impressive resumé. Gio was brought up in FC Barcelona’s youth system and was quickly compared to Ronaldinho, yet never actually came even close to reaching the output the Brazilian brought Barcelona.
Now, after being relegated twice in the last two seasons, with Racing Santander and Mallorca, the Mexican attacker is looking for a stable place where he can spend the next 4 to 5 seasons and hope to develop into the player he once was thought he could become. Giving his proven skills — and also his marketing pull — teams like Sevilla, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid have shown some interest, but Major League Soccer is also very interested on making Gio the League’s franchise player. He’s got all the prerequisites for the new direction the league is taking: He is young, talented, a Latino-commercial powerhouse, and his “brand” could mesh perfectly well with MLS’, in a way that both could power each other’s growth. If he ends up signing for an MLS club, Los Angeles will undoubtedly end up being his home.
Ambrosini: AC Milan’s long term captain has said goodbye to San Siro after 18 seasons, and he now faces the last years of his career with a big decision to make: Does he want to stay at the highest competitive level, or try out a new experience in a still up-and-coming league like MLS? In this case, he will have a great reference in his good friend Alessandro Nesta, with whom he shared a locker room for ten year, and who signed for the Montreal Impact last summer.
Ambrosini is a proven-quality defensive center mid, who’s won the World Cup and two Champions League with the Rossoneri, and a contract with an MLS team could very well be in his plans come July 1st. The player has recognized that both Fiorentina and West Ham have also shown an interest in signing him, but perhaps moving to North America sounds more appealing right now for the 37-year old.
Pablo Aimar: Argentine attacking midfielder has recently parted ways with Benfica, the place he called home for the last 5 years, and he is now looking for a good proposal for the next few years — the final ones of his career.
In clear physical decline, and having evolved from the electrical attacker who marveled the world with Valencia and the Argentine National Team to a more poised organizer, Aimar is not cut out for the efforts the top leagues in Europe require from their players, so he is planning a return to the other side of the Atlantic. The Argentine knows River Plate, the club where he grew up, would welcome him with open arms, as they’ve done with other former glories, but since that option will always be there, he may want to make a pit stop in North America and join the MLS for the next two-to-three years. The League has already shown some interest on Aimar, and the ball is now on the attacker’s court.